Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

In 2014, the excellent FX original series Fargo explored the consequences of Steve Buscemi's character burying thousands of dollars in the snow in a universe shared with the Coen Brothers' 1996 film. The Zellner Brothers' Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter touches on the same topic, but their story is ostensibly set in the "real" world: their film, which debuted last year and is getting a limited release this week, follows a 29-year-old girl named Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) who discovers a waterlogged VHS tape of Fargo, believes that movie's opening proclamation that it tells a true story, and ventures from Tokyo to the United States in an attempt to find the money. Beautiful and beguiling, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter takes us on a quixotic quest toward an unspecified location in the American Midwest that holds much more than the promise of cash: a woman's soul is on the line here, and you can feel her determination with every step.

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
Co-writer/Director: David Zellner
Starring: Rinko Kikuchi



Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Kidnapping Mr. Heineken

With one of the most literal titles in recent memory, Kidnapping Mr. Heineken tells the remarkable true story of a group of childhood friends who kidnapped the Heineken beer tycoon and held him for ransom in Amsterdam in 1983. Director Daniel Alfredson (The Girl Who Played With Fire) imbues the movie with many of the conventions of a heist film, except instead of robbing a bank or stealing money from a casino, his criminals are stealing a human being. While the specific events of this film are admittedly unique, the themes are as old as time itself: living in a tough economy, yearning for a better life, and eventually, greed as the cause of a downfall.

Kidnapping Mr. Heineken
Director: Daniel Alfredson
Starring: Jim Sturgess, Sam Worthington, Anthony Hopkins



Friday, February 27, 2015

The Salvation

The Salvation is the latest in a long line of western revenge thrillers, and if you've seen two or three films in that subgenre, you'll know exactly how this story is going to play out from the first two minutes. But while that predictability can often lead to a boring, disengaged viewing experience, this movie is elevated by strong performances from its lead actors. It's about as straightforward a genre piece as you'll ever find, and at a quick 92 minutes, it doesn't waste any time getting where it needs to go.

The Salvation
Director: Kristian Levring
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffery Dean Morgan, Eva Green



Friday, February 13, 2015

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

The original Hot Tub Time Machine had a catchy hook, but once the insanity of the premise wore off, it ended up being a mostly passable comedy with a handful of decent jokes. Bereft of the first film's originality, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is just a tired riff on what we've already seen. It's a standard, by-the-book sequel: take the same basic characters and put them in essentially the same situation they were in before, then tweak a few details to try to spice it up. Sure, it has a few funny moments, but does that justify spending another hour and a half with these characters? In this case, I don't think so.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2
Director: Steve Pink
Starring: Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Adam Scott